I came across this insightful and thought-provoking TED Talk and wanted to share this with as many people out there as possible (and with Mina when she’s older, of course)!
You don’t have to be a parent to find his talk moving and compelling, only human. “Diversity is what unites us. … [T]he experience of difference within families is universal, as are the struggles toward compassion and the triumphs of love.”
Another quote with profound meaning to me: “Love is something that ideally is there unconditionally throughout the relationship between a parent and a child. But acceptance is something that takes time. It always takes time.”
This distinction he made between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance was an aha moment for me. This distinction is something I knew by experience, by living through the pain of nonacceptance from my family; but something I was never able to make sense or articulate. All I managed to do through it all was LOVE. “LOVE, NO MATTER WHAT,” as his title says. Yes, indeed. And in the end, almost miraculously in my eyes, my parents have come around to accept me and my family for who we are.
Now, seeing that fine line and separating the two gives me an odd sense of security and relief. I’ve arrived here: a calm understanding and compassionate resignation that acceptance from those unwilling will take time, on their time.
There is a lesson here for just about anyone willing to listen and give the next 23 minutes a chance. Profound meaning is here, wherever we are; but only found to those who are open and present. Both his books, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression are on my reading list now!
“Andrew Solomon’s newest book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so. Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the struggles toward compassion and the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter. Woven into these courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.”